The University of Tennessee School of Music is wholly committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion of every human being.
As 2020 churns on to be a year none of us will forget, quite frankly, COVID-19 is not our only virus. We are again in the midst of another virus, one that has been around much longer than COVID-19. Systemic racism must stop. We already have a vaccine for it, and it is found in the hearts of everyone around us. We must choose to allow it to work.
As a School of Music, it is easy for us to rely on the musical and academic messages that our art form provides. This is not enough. That is why I am calling on everyone in the University of Tennessee School of Music, our students, faculty, staff, donor, friends, and all other supporters, to join with us to condemn not only systemic racism, but the oppression and hate that fuels it.
Yes, we can spread messages of inclusivity, equality, and human rights through our performances and lectures. That works. But, we need to do more.
As of today, I will begin forming a task force comprised of students, faculty, staff, and community members to lead us in initiatives that go beyond the traditional concert hall and outside our classrooms, so we don’t solely rely on these safe spaces to condemn this ongoing brutality.
Musicians have always had a voice. People have looked to us for reflective insights. Now, I’m suggesting we, as artistic leaders in Knoxville and beyond, that we take a stand to promote love, inclusion and common decency among all peoples. This will not cost us anything. We can’t say that for those we’ve lost and those that continue to suffer. We do not have to wait for a vaccine, we know that diversity, equality, and inclusivity will heal us.
We can provide outlets, specifically to the young people we are molding, to be proponents of social justice and change. That is what we will do – by being proactive, peaceful, and thoughtful change agents.
I’ll say it again: The University of Tennessee School of Music is wholly committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion of every human being.
Please join us in supporting this thought and in our future efforts to invoke the changes necessary by being leading voices in this effort. Our positive actions against all of our 2020 challenges will be successful with unity and compassion for each other.
Director, School of Music